Employee Spotlight - Erica Blawat, AIA
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Sep 12, 2019
Without exception, Erica Blawat understands all the classical principles of architecture, but she’s just as well versed in how architecture can intersect with teaching, creating joy for those who step back to appreciate the relationship between the two. Known around the BBA offices for her infectious laugh, Erica is often seeking ways to bring her positive outlook while engaging fellow employees as well as clients. She smiles to mention “When my employers hear laughter in the workplace, they assume you’re not actually working, but I’ve proven them wrong!”
For Erica, it was an early fascination with dollhouses that helped steer her into the roles she enjoys today. “My grandparents gave me my first dollhouse when I was very young and I quickly became obsessed with miniatures. At one point, I had a small town in my bedroom, with four or five individual dollhouses, and a bookcase that I had converted into a mixed-use high-rise with restaurants and shops on the bottom shelves and offices and apartments above.”
Excelling in both math and fine arts, Erica initially enrolled as an engineering undergraduate student at University of Washington in St. Louis, but quickly realized she was drawn to design and switched to architecture. “I dual-majored in architecture and psychology, since I was equally interested in the design process and the experience of spaces created.”
After graduating summa cum laude, Erica wasn’t sure what type of architecture she might want to pursue, so she explored a variety of project types across the country, including residential, institutional, and commercial ventures – “everything from stadiums to coffee shops.”
A few years later, while earning her Master of Architecture at the University of Washington, she immersed herself in hands-on construction, historic preservation, and continuing her study of the sensation and perception of spaces – how to use windows, interior views, and shifts in floor or ceiling plane to make a small space feel bigger, for example. She acknowledges being influenced by the works of Frank Lloyd Wright, which utilize many of these design principles.
In addition to serving as a senior associate here at BBA Architects, Erica values time spent exploring the insights and discoveries that architecture can contribute to the classroom and learning at home. She even has a website devoted to it, entitled “Design In Play” (designinplay.com), developed while serving as a part-time teacher at her young children’s Montessori school. In it, she outlines activities that explore STEAM-based learning (science, technology, engineering, art and math) through various architectural topics. She touts her educational offering as a place to create a “family home designed for discovery, learning and creative play,” adding that the activities are intended for both home and classroom as a way to “promote discovery through design” and “find wisdom through wonder.”
Erica was recently invited to serve on the Elmhurst Historic Preservation Commission, where she will be able to share her expertise in maintaining the unique character of her community, while addressing the needs of modern society.
With husband Nick, an executive at US Foods, Erica is busy in her free time attending to a remodel of the family’s 1920s bungalow, while the couple is simultaneously building a new custom home for themselves, their two children, Addison (12) and Jack (9), and their two pet guinea pigs.